Category: Magical Realism

A #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | soaking into Shakespearean Fantasy within the pages of “Harlequin’s Riddle (Book One: Tales of Tarya) by Rachel Nightingale

Posted Monday, 2 May, 2022 by jorielov , , , , , 0 Comments

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review Year 5 badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Gifted Book By: This novel “Harlequin’s Riddle” was part of a gifted #bookhaul of mine from my Mum and Dad for #WyrdAndWonder, Year 4! They happily surprised me with a lovely bundle of books I featured during Wyrd And Wonder Year 3 celebrating the Indie Publisher Odyssey Books! This continues my readings of those novels as I was overjoyed I can read all the lovely stories I had either showcased and/or featured but wasn’t able to read during our Year 3 Wyrd And Wonder.

Thereby, I was gifted a copy of “Harlequin’s Riddle” by my parents and I was not obligated to post a review on its behalf. I am sharing my thoughts on behalf of this novel for my own edification and a continued journey of sharing my readerly life on Jorie Loves A Story. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Note: I received the Press Materials last year from the publisher and had asked if I could re-use them if and when I was able to read and/or review the stories I was featuring during Wyrd And Wonder Year 3 (2020); and thankfully was given permission to do so which is why I am using them during my readings this 5th Year of Wyrd And Wonder.

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Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

I was quite smitten with all the stories I’ve selected to feature from this Independent Publisher – each of the guest features will tuck us closer to the stories themselves, introduce us to the writers and give us a newfound appreciation for the Fantasy stories which are being independently published by publishers who champion the crafting of stories and the writers who have created these fantastical worlds for us to discover.

I wanted to begin this series of features with Ms Nightingale – as her world is a rather curious one – both from the perspective of what initially inspired her series and how she first fused curiosity to building the foundation of this world she’s given us to read and by how her characters simply step forward from that world and embrace our imaginations.

-as shared on the guest post by Ms Nightingale

As you might remember – two years ago, I had the lovely pleasure of running a series of guest features for Odyssey Books. Their authors were very welcoming to me and open to my enquiries as much as they returnt my interview and guest post topics with such hearty depth – it was a true pleasure to host all of them! I even interviewed one of them via #SatBookChat as I did a takeover chat experience that year as well.

Last year, I was able to start my readings again of Odyssey Books via “Cassandra” (see also Review) whilst previously I had featured Elizabeth Foster’s “Esme’s Wish” (from 2020: see also Review) and Felicity Banks Rahana trilogy: “The Monster Apprentice” (from 2020: see also Review) and “The Princess and the Pirate” (see also Review) in 2021.

This #WyrdAndWonder I am picking up from whence I last left off – I have the complete set of stories for the Tales of Tarya to read and I couldn’t be happier! I didn’t want to set out to read the first novel if I knew I couldn’t read the rest of the series. Thereby, I waited until our 5th Year to begin my journey into this world and it is my hope to read the rest of the Odyssey Books I have on my shelves every Monday throughout May. Part of what drew me into these stories was the premise of them — how they are a combination of reshaping what we understand about Shakespeare against what we love about Mythological Fantasy and Fantasy which is set in a world re-inspired by another writer.

Whilst I am planning to read the Odyssey Books authors on Mondays – you’ll find two more lovelies from them being featured and read this month: “Esme’s Gift” the sequel to “Esme’s Wish” and “The Shadow of the Skytree” (see also Interview). I am attempting to get a copy of “Songlines” by Carolyn Denman as well. Join me on Mondays as I take my own odyssey into a publisher’s canon of stories and series.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

A #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | soaking into Shakespearean Fantasy within the pages of “Harlequin’s Riddle (Book One: Tales of Tarya) by Rachel NightingaleHarlequin's Riddle
Subtitle: Book One of the Tales of Tarya
by Rachel Nightingale
Illustrator/Cover Designer: Nadia Turner
Source: Gifted

Ten years ago, Mina’s beloved older brother disappeared with a troupe of travelling players, and was never heard from again. On the eve of Mina’s own departure with a troupe, her father tells her she has a special gift for storytelling, a gift he silenced years before in fear of her ability to call visions into being with her stories.

Mina soon discovers that the travelling players draw their powers from a mysterious place called Tarya, where dreams are transformed into reality. While trying to solve the mystery of her brother’s disappearance, she discovers a dark secret to the players’ onstage antics. Torn between finding her brother or exposing the truth about the players, could her gifts as a storyteller offer a way to solve Harlequin’s riddle?

Genres: Fantasy Fiction, Historical-Fantasy, Magical Realism, Upper YA Fantasy



Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1922200990

Also by this author: Harlequin's Riddle

Published by Odyssey Books

on 12th June, 2017

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 312

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The Tales of Tarya series:

The Tales of Tarya collage created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: jorielovesastory.com

Harlequin’s Riddle (book one)

Columbine’s Tale (book two)

Pierrot’s Song (book three)

Be sure to read Ms Nightingale’s Guest Post after this review!

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Published by: Odyssey Books (@OdysseyBooks)

Converse via: #HistoricalFantasy, #YAFantasy, #TalesOfTarya
as well as #OdysseyBooks & #WyrdAndWonder

About Rachel Nightingale

Rachel Nightingale

Rachel Nightingale has been writing since the age of eight (early works are safely hidden away). Harlequin’s Riddle is her first novel.

Rachel holds a Masters degree and PhD in Creative Writing. Her short stories have been selected several times for exhibition as part of the Cancer Council Arts awards, and winning the Mercury Short Story competition (junior section) at the age of 16 only fuelled her desire to share her stories with the world. One of her plays, No Sequel, won the People’s Choice Award and First Prize at the Eltham Little Theatre’s 10 Minute Play competition in 2014, while another, Crime Fiction, was performed at Short and Sweet Manila in 2016. Her second passion after writing is the theatre, and she has been performing in shows and working backstage for a rather long time. She co-wrote and performed in the 2013-2015 version of the hugely popular Murder on the Puffing Billy Express, a 1920s murder mystery set on the iconic Dandenong Ranges train.

The inspiration for the Tarya trilogy, which begins with Harlequin’s Riddle, began when she read a quote by Broadway actor Alan Cumming about that in-between moment just before you step on stage and enter a different world, and began to wonder what you might find in that place between worlds.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission. Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #WyrdAndWonder
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Posted Monday, 2 May, 2022 by jorielov in #WyrdAndWonder, After the Canon, Classical Literature, Clever Turns of Phrase, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Content Note, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Disabilities & Medical Afflictions, Dreams & Dreamscapes, Equality In Literature, Fantasy Fiction, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Grief & Anguish of Guilt, Historical Fantasy, Indie Author, Inspired By Author OR Book, Inspired by Stories, Introspective Literary Fiction, Life Shift, Magical Realism, Parapsychological Gifts, Philosophical Intuitiveness, Realistic Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event, Upper YA Fantasy, William Shakespeare, Wordsmiths & Palettes of Sage

A #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | featuring “Tree Magic” (Tree Magic series, Book One) by Harriet Springbett, published by @ImpressBooks1

Posted Sunday, 23 May, 2021 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Gifted Book By: Last year, I had the chance to feature this lovely series by Impress Books UK twice – for a Spotlight & Extract as well as an author interview for the tour celebrating the sequel. I enjoyed hosting for the touring company attached to these tours, but during late (2020) I decided to pull back from a few of the touring companies I was hosting and re-focus on the blog tours, publishers & authors I regularly host more often. My memory is a bit foggy if I was conversing with the publisher about ‘Tree Magic’ before or after the second blog tour. In that conversation, I was mentioning the book wasn’t yet released stateside in a print edition and I wasn’t sure (at the time) when I’d be able to purchase a copy as 2020 was quite an adverse year for my family all told. Especially for medical emergencies and/or ER visits in particular. Thereby, when the publisher offered to send me a copy of ‘Tree Magic’ when it was available in print, I thanked them for their gracious offer and knew once my migraines calmed down, I wanted to dive into this novel!

The months passed by and as 2021 started off with adversities of its own, I can honestly say, it wasn’t until May this year, during #WyrdAndWonder where I could read past the first few pages of ‘Tree Magic’!! I am overjoyed I could wait until now to talk about this novel and the series it begins as I felt such a strong attachment to this book and the world it is set in due to the showcases I hosted last year. I had eight migraines in September, 2020 after the five I had in May, 2020 – so betwixt and between both those months, I’m equally in the dark if I received this for review consideration or for my own personal readerly curiosity. 

Thereby, I was gifted a copy of “Tree Magic” by the publisher Impress Books UK without being obligated to post an honest review. I am sharing my thoughts on behalf of this novel for my own edification and a continued journey of sharing my readerly life on Jorie Loves A Story. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Note: I received the Press Materials last year from the publisher and vaguely remember asking if / when I was able to read this novel if I could re-use the materials given to me on both blog tours and being given permission to do that if / when the time arose. Therefore, this is why the Press Materials for this series are included on this review.

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Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

I have had a firm attachment to the natural world ever since I was a young girl – growing up with a fascination and wonderment about nature, wildlife and especially of trees! This is why when I first saw this blog tour being announced, I was super giddy about participating on the tour because any writer who can celebrate and champion the natural world in a pro-positive way is an author I would love to feature on Jorie Loves A Story!

I could immediately connect with the premise with this novel which is why I am trying to seek out a copy of this in print through my local library – there is something quite magical about how trees are the guardians within the natural habitats we visit whilst hiking or walking in natural landscapes; they know things and they remember everything. This is partially why it is soul-crushing whenever there are huge wildfire seasons like the ones that are affecting the Western United States right now and/or the fires in Australia at the turning of the New Year. Nature grieves for the losses those fires bring to those habitats but I oft felt the trees especially are full of the grief of what could not be protected and what fell at their feet due to how the forests have not been able to withstand fire as they had in the past. I still remember hearing about the old growth forests of the Redwoods recently and of how achingly hard it was to see them aflame.

I have regularly spoken about the natural world on Jorie Loves A Story – from the stories I am reading to the context of the stories which seek to bring an ecological mindset and heart for conservation onto my blog because I believe strongly those stories are necessary for today’s world. Not just due to the climatic changes we’re all experiencing but to help re-connect readers with the knowledge about the natural ecosystems they might overlook and not be as familiar with as I have become myself. Knowledge is the first step towards change and to remain connected to the connectivity of how the natural world and our world intersect is one step closer to finding better balance in how to keep Earth a healthier place.

– previously I shared this introduction to why I was wicked curious about Tree Magic

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There is one reason I held off reading this novel –  it took me until May to reconcile how to read Tree Magic was because of a gutting loss of trees in my neighbourhood which were uncalled for and mercilessly butchered by a bulldozer rather than cut with respect with a chainsaw. The trees were sacrificed due to a ridiculous expansion of a sidewalk which had zero benefit to the neighbourhood and took out a total of seven trees for reasons NO ONE understood lest of all the trees! I will never forget that feeling of knowing the trees were trying to defend themselves and the murmuring after effects of their death. These were full-grown cedar trees – whose rings in their trunks showcased their years of life and the emptiness of their protective shade has never felt more absent than the arrival of Summer. I still feel affected by what happened and how it was done – why cities plan their designs to erase more of the natural world than preserve it is not something I’ll ever comprehend.

This is why I had to let this novel sit on my shelf even longer than planned – I just couldn’t bring myself to read about trees and our connections to them until I could deal with the loss of the majestic cedars which once stood silently against storms and sun and whose presence was a kind reminder of how quietly trees whisper to us throughout the year.

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A #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | featuring “Tree Magic” (Tree Magic series, Book One) by Harriet Springbett, published by @ImpressBooks1Tree Magic
by Harriet Springbett
Source: Direct from Publisher, Gifted

Thirteen-year-old Rainbow discovers she can communicate with trees.

But that’s just the beginning. Her magic hands can shape trees at her will, but her gift is dangerous and has fatal consequences. An accident that leaves Rainbow unconscious leads her mother to make a confession that will change Rainbow’s life forever. Are her abilities a gift or a curse? Can Rainbow really trust her mother? From England to France, through secrets, fears and parallel worlds, Rainbow’s journey to understand her powers takes her beyond everything she’s ever known.

To find the truth, she must also find herself.

Genres: Young Adult Fiction, YA Fantasy, Magical Realism



Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1-911293-63-7

ASIN: B087MCBT53

Also by this author: Tree Magic, Tree Slayer

Published by Impress Books

on 2nd June, 2020

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 440

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The Tree Magic series: (a trilogy)

Tree Magic by Harriet SpringbettTree Slayer by Harriet Springbett

Tree Magic (book one)

Tree Slayer (book two)

Tree Sacrifice (book three) ← forthcoming Autumn, 2021!

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Published by:  Impress Books (@ImpressBooks1)

Available Formats: Trade Paperback and Ebook

Converse via: #YALit, #Trees and #Magic, #MagicalRealism, #YAFantasy
as well as #TreeMagic or #Fantasy

About Harriet Springbett

Harriet Springbett

Harriet Springbett’s childhood on a small farm in West Dorset gave her an early exposure to nature, which continues to inspire her writing.

She qualified as an engineer but, during a Raleigh International expedition in Chile, she realised she preferred words to numbers. She abandoned her profession, moved to France, studied French and then worked as a project manager, feature writer, translator and TEFL teacher. She now lives in Poitou-Charentes with her French partner and their teenage children.

Since her first literary success, aged 10, her short stories and poetry have been published in literary journals and placed in writing competitions, including a shortlisting in the 2017 Bath Short Story Award.

Harriet leads writing workshops, has judged the Segora international short story competition.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #WyrdAndWonder
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Posted Sunday, 23 May, 2021 by jorielov in 20th Century, Animals in Fiction & Non-Fiction, Book Review (non-blog tour), British Literature, Brothers and Sisters, Cats and Kittens, Childhood Friendship, Coming-Of Age, Content Note, Death of a Sibling, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Dendrology (Study of Woody Plants or Trees), Disillusionment in Marriage, Divorce & Martial Strife, Earthen Magic, Earthen Spirituality, England, Environmental Conscience, Environmental Science, Family Drama, Family Life, Fantasy Fiction, Father-daughter Relationships, Fathers and Daughters, Fly in the Ointment, Folklore and Mythology, France, French Literature, Green-Minded Social Awareness, Horticulture, Indie Author, Magical Realism, Modern British Literature, Modern Day, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Mother-Son Relationships, Nature & Wildlife, Realistic Fiction, Rescue & Adoption of Animals, Siblings, Single Mothers, Spirituality & Metaphysics, Sustainability & Ecological Preservation, Teenage Relationships & Friendships, The Natural World, Treeshaping, Young Adult Fiction

A #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | Exploring #MiddleGrade Fantasy within “Dalya and the Magic Ink Bottle” by J.M. Evenson; courtesy of #NetGalley

Posted Saturday, 1 May, 2021 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Borrowed Book By: In late Winter 2020, (February) I joined NetGalley for the first time as they finally announced they were going to be offering full-length audiobooks for reviewers. I was never able to join NetGalley due to having chronic migraines and being unable to read ebooks. I started requesting audiobooks to review as soon as they opened their audiobook catalogue in July, 2020. I am an eclectic reader and thereby, you will see all genres in Fiction explored from both markets of interest: mainstream and INSPY as well as from Major Trade, Indie Publishers & Press and other routes of publication, too. There might be the occasional Non-Fiction title appearing in my NetGalley queue of reviews as well. This marks a new adventure for me seeking stories for review consideration and I look forward to seeing where the stories lead me to venture.

I received a complimentary digital and temporary ebook copy of “Dalya and the Magic Ink Bottle” direct from the publisher Capstone via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. However, I was not able to read and review it – as I misunderstood you could not request a print copy. At the time I requested this title, I had just joined NetGalley and hadn’t quite understood the whole process. Thereby, I made a purchase request at my regional library and they were thankfully able to purchase this novel for me. I borrowed this book in time to read and review during #WyrdAondWonder Year 4 – whilst being able to read one of my backlogue NetGalley reads in the process. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

NOTE: As a new reviewer on NetGalley, I’m sorting out how to get the Press Materials for each of the audiobooks I’m reviewing when I share them on my blog Jorie Loves A Story. When I contacted NetGalley Support they informed me that if a separate Press Kit is not included on the audiobook’s book page we’re allowed as reviewers to use the book cover and synopsis provided when we go to share our review of that audiobook on our blogs; as long as we give attribution as I have done at the bottom of this review in “Sources”. Those materials are provided with permission of the publishers to be used by reviewers via NetGalley.

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Why I wanted to read &/or listen to “Dalya and the Magic Ink Bottle”:

I love reading #diverselit but sometimes, I struggle to find stories which are inclusive of multicultural characters & families which are in genres I read which are not full of violence or themes which are outside my literary wanderings.

Whenever I seek out Fantasy – I tend to gravitate towards Middle Grade & Young Adult moreso than Adult narratives because a lot of Adult Fantasy is a bit too far afield for me to read. Not always, but if you’ve noticed I have had the tendency of reading more Children’s Lit during #WyrdAndWonder than I do anything else and there is a reason for this!! Violence aside – I am enraptured by the writers who are giving us wicked good Middle Grade & Young Adult Fantasy stories. Their writing the narratives I want to be reading most and their characters give such a lasting impression of their lives on my bookish heart, they quite literally become my most beloved reads!!

When I read the premise of this story I connected with it immediately – though, by the time I sat down to read the novel, I had completely forgotten about how important it was to take stock of the ‘cat’ and therefore had a delightful surprise when I dove into the story this morning! I was just thankful my library was able to purchase a copy for me in hardback and allowing me to read this during #WyrdAndWonder before it was called back to the library! I’m hopeful other readers who find it on the library’s shelves will be as wholly enthused by what they’ve read as I have become myself.

It didn’t surprise me either that my first two readings this #WyrdAndWonder are about families & the concept of both what constitutes ‘home’ and ‘family’ to the characters. There is a centreing of truth in my own literary wanderings wherein family, community and coming-of age stories tend to the big draw for me as a reader. This was a special choice for me too, as I wasn’t sure which direction Everson might take us to account for the ‘magic ink’ and lo & behold it involved the JINN! Eek. I was positively smitten after I learnt that, too!

As you will tell from my review, this was a story which touched my heart & soul – being set in Turkey and taking place in the largest city’s marketplace was also a delight as I’ve seen documentaries about their markets and felt as if I had ‘been there’ just by how close those documentaries came to giving you the full effect of being ‘there’ yourself. I felt having that in my memories also helped me feel closer to Dalya on her journey, too. If you love stories of transfiguration, magical cats and the cheekiness of the Jinn – you’ll want to get a copy of this for yourself! I quite literally read this in the morning hours in one sitting — it was #unputdownable and wickedly brilliant!

What a sweet way to kick-off #WyrdAndWonder, eh!?

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Notations on Cover Art: This is one of those charmingly brilliant novels where you can’t help but notice the cover art! I loved how both the cat and Dalya are not entirely seen on the front of the novel but also, there is this allure of the story itself – of what kind of magic awaits the reader and how interestingly captivating this image is of who is featured in the artwork. I love Fantasy & Speculative art – and this book cover is one of my all-time top favourites! 

A #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | Exploring #MiddleGrade Fantasy within “Dalya and the Magic Ink Bottle” by J.M. Evenson; courtesy of #NetGalleyDalya and the Magic Ink Bottle
by J.M. Evenson
Source: Borrowed from local library, Purchase REQ | local library

When twelve-year-old Dalya is dragged to Istanbul to help sell her family's ancestral home, the visit begins unpromisingly. Most of the aged mansion is off-limits because it's falling apart, her father is ignoring her, and her great aunt keeps prattling on about a family curse. Despite warnings against it, Dalya tiptoes upstairs, where she finds an old bottle of magic ink hidden under a floorboard. She asks the bottle's jinn (aka genie) to grant her a simple wish...to send her home. Except the jinn interprets "go home" to mean "send me back in time and turn me into a cat." Then Dalya must set off on a wild adventure through Istanbul's animal underworld to find the jinn with the power to set things right. Along the way she collects a group of companions - furry and human alike - but if she isn't careful, she'll lose the chance to reverse her family's fortunes and may never find her way back home.

Genres: Children's Literature, Fantasy Fiction, Magical Realism, Middle Grade Fantasy, Urban Fantasy



Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781684461301

Published by Capstone

on 1st August, 2020

Format: Hardcover Edition

Pages: 200

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Published By: Capstone (@CapstonePub)

Converse via: #KidsLit, #MGLit or #MiddleGrade, #Fantasy
as well as #DalyaAndTheMagicInkBottle + #ReadingIsForEveryone and especially #WyrdAndWonder !!

Available Formats: Hardcover, Trade Paperback and Ebook

✍? Follow the writer J.M. Evenson | @JM_Evenson

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #WyrdAndWonder
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Posted Saturday, 1 May, 2021 by jorielov in 21st Century, Book Review (non-blog tour), Castles & Estates, Children's Literature, Familiars, Fantasy Fiction, Father-daughter Relationships, Folklore and Mythology, Juvenile Fiction, Magical Realism, Middle Grade Novel, Modern Day, NetGalley, Supernatural Creatures & Beings, Urban Fantasy